Monthly Archives: February 2011

Standing Room Only

There was laughter. There were show tunes. There were jokes. There were stories.  There was a bagpiper. There even was a 7th inning stretch during which the audience of over 400 was asked to sing, “Take me Out to the Ballgame.”

And there were tears.

Bill addressing the ladies Burns' Supper 2008
Bill addressing the ladies Burns' Supper 2008

I thought I knew Bill Chin. I’d seen him many times at Alison and David’s  home. I knew him as a loving father who was active at the local elementary school when his kids were young. I’d heard stories about near mishaps and half-thought through ideas that always turned out fine, but caused a little light anxiety at first. I knew Bill as a listener and a questioner. I knew Bill as a physically strong man who could effortlessly lift his 18 year old daughter, Jessie, over his shoulder and carry her up stairs to watch videos with Laura. I knew Bill as Robin’s husband. As Lucy and Jessie’s father. As David and Alison’s friend. I more recently knew Bill as a dance instructor — his contribution to this year’s Burns’ Supper.

Last night as I stood in the aisle of the packed Imagination Stage auditorium I discovered that I didn’t know Bill Chin at all. I learned he was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I learned that he was still active at ‘s school (also my son’s school). I learned that he was always helping people in need. I learned that he rarely took no for an answer. I learned that he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I learned that his parents owned a mom-and-pop store. I learned he was a twin. I learned he had 4 siblings. I learned that Bill packed an awful lot of living into his 52 years on Earth. I learned he was “larger than life”.

I talked to other people last night who said the same — they knew some things about Bill, but not everything. I regret that I was not more of a listener and questioner and had listened and asked Bill questions on the occasions we were together.

Last night it was obvious that Bill was loved by many — not just his family and friends, but by an entire community. A community that he was a huge part of. A community that I live in, but seclude myself from for reasons even I don’t understand.

Bill’s brother asked us, last night, to think about the words in the song from Wicked that was sung earlier in the service:

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

There is nothing at all good about Bill Chin’s death. Nothing. But maybe I can make some changes in my life to make his death meaningful in a good way. Maybe I can be changed for the better because I knew Bill.

Why I love Damart but won’t order it again

UPDATE: Closing the comments for this post because it seems to be getting a lot of traffic and my hosts are getting antsy.

Note to anyone here because of an Internet search for Damart or Thermolactyl (which seems to be a lot of you):

Hi there random Internet Person! Between the time I wrote this post and now, Damart USA has been shipping products much more quickly and I have indeed ordered Damart items several times since writing this. In fact I’m about to order some things for my daughter — so disregard the negativity below and order away. It is really good stuff; just don’t toss it in the dryer.

Are you familiar with Damart? If you live where it gets cold in the winter, you should know about Damart. Damart makes the best thermal underwear I’ve ever used (and I’ve used a lot of thermal underwear).

I first heard about Damart from my husband. I was buying a pair of cotton thermals at REI and my husband said he’d heard about a brand of thermal underwear from England that the Minnesota Vikings wore. That it was a petroleum based material that had remarkable insulation qualities. We, somehow, obtained a catalog and I ordered a set to see if it was as promised.

It was better. I now could keep warm anywhere. I no longer had to decline winter walks and spending time in Wisconsin during the winter was no longer something I could not do. I was finally warm. Life was good.

For years this was the only thermal underwear I’d wear. I had several sets and was careful to not put them in the dryer after a couple of mistakes. See — Thermolactyl — the name Damart has given to its wonder-material shrinks in the dryer. A lot. So much that a woman’s top will fit a toddler if put in the dryer. I did this a couple times, but quickly learned to wash my Damart items separately so I would not mistakenly toss one in the dryer.

If taken care of, Damart thermal underwear lasts a long time but does wear out after a while. Luckily I had the catalog (then website) from which to order. At first they’d even send free gifts with each order — an incentive to order more!

Shortly after September 2001, Damart announced they would no longer ship to the United States. I was devastated. I’d just introduced my mother-in-law to the brand and she wanted more sets of thermals — but I couldn’t buy them anymore. They suggested another company, Wickers, but their product was no match for Damart.

Damart Factory
The Damart Factory (Dave Berkeley) / CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2002 we visited England for a family vacation and I made my husband stop at the Damart factory so I could stock up on thermals in their factory store. How many other people make a long underwear factory a stop on a vacation? (The factory is 5 minutes drive from Cottingley where the young cousins saw fairies in the bottom of their garden, so we did at least two tourist stops in one day).

A few years ago Damart began shipping to the States again and I began ordering from them again. Last November I realized I’d pretty much run out of tops and turned to the website to order more. I ordered two items and was glad I’d have them for our trip to Illinois at Christmas. In mid-December, when I’d not received my order I wrote to the company and received an email saying they were sorry and the order was then processed. I still had not received my order in mid-January and wrote to the company again. This time they said there was no news about my order and if I wanted to they’d cancel the order. I said no, don’t cancel it.

My package finally arrived about a week ago. I immediately wore one of the tops. It was wonderful and warm and perfect. I remembered why I loved Damart so and forgave them for the slowness in getting me their product.

Yesterday I threw some clothes in the wash. Then tossed them in the dryer. This morning I had a bad feeling. Yep. I now have a very warm shirt that will fit a 4 year old.

So with the slowness of the order and the shrinking of the shirt, I think I’m finished with Damart. Sorry guys — I did love you so and you are only partly to blame. I do recommend you to others though — especially ones who are not in a hurry and who are more careful about their laundry.

Not a word from our sponsors

I don’t normally talk about products here on Clutch Cargo Lips. There are few that are so wonderful that I want to tell the world and there not many I want to tell the world to avoid. Also companies don’t send me free stuff like they do for some people. So rest assured, the product I’m going to discuss today was bought with my own hard earned cash.

So — I have dry skin in the winter. Only the winter, but in the winter it gets so dry and itchy that, if I don’t watch myself, I scratch my skin raw. It’s mostly my legs from the knees down that get really dry, but on very dry days my whole body itches.

I’ve tried a number of lotions and some help — Eucerin is one. I like that it doesn’t have a scent (ones with scents often make me sneeze) but it has an odor that I don’t like — or maybe it can go rancid?)  Anyway, I was shopping at Costco at the end of last year and saw a bottle of a lotion I’d not seen before. I was intrigued when I stepped closer and read #1 Lotion recommended by dermatologists and podiatrists. Wow, I thought, it has to be good if so many doctors recommend it. Because I had a coupon for it, I put it in the cart. (Although I would have probably bought it anyway)

The next morning I applied the lotion to my legs after my shower, hoping it would help the dryness and stop the itching. First response: OUCH! F**K! THAT HURTS! OUCH!

On closer inspection, this product was more than a lotion. It was also an exfoliator. Whatever was in it stung like acid* and I nearly rinsed it off. The stinging stopped after a short while and the lotion seemed to work about as well as Eucerin. I used it a few more times — some were more painful than others — then kind of “forgot” to use it anymore.

When my daughter came home from college for winter break she used it after her shower. She later told me she hated it because it stung so bad and the makers should warn people about the stinging. Then we looked at the label and found this (bolding mine):

Caution: For external use only. Keep this product out of the reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes, lips and mucous membranes. A mild irritation or rash may occur on sensitive skin with initial use. May cause transient stinging when applied to skin with fissures or abrasions. Irritation may occur when used on the face. If irritation or rash continues, discontinue use and consult a physician. Avoid unnecessary sun exposure and use a sunscreen.

It makes me wonder what doctors recommended it. I’m thinking maybe:

So, if you do decide to try this product out (and it probably works just fine) realize that it is a pain to use — literally. We have a hardly used bottle if you’re interested…

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*It contains lactic acid which, according to Wikipedia, has a ph of 3.86 which is a little less acidic than orange juice.